Border Patrol Search & Rescue Efforts Surge in FY 2021

And rare reporting on the hells of the journey to the United States

By Andrew R. Arthur on September 16, 2021

With two months of CBP statistics yet to be published this fiscal year, Border Patrol agents in FY 2021 have already exceeded the number of search-and-rescue efforts that they performed in FY 2019 and FY 2020 combined. As if more was needed, it is the latest proof of the dangers the president’s ill-conceived immigration policies have created. That said, the life-threatening dangers aliens face on this side of the border pale in comparison to the threats and indignities they risk on the way here.

First, here are the numbers: This current fiscal year, Border Patrol agents at the Southwest border have conducted 10,275 separate search and rescue efforts. That compares with 5,071 in FY 2020 and 4,920 in FY 2019 — 9,991 in total.

Who are those whom agents have been called upon to rescue? Aliens like the six Mexican nationals who had entered illegally, and became lost without food or water 10 miles from the border near Plaster City, Calif., early in the morning on September 14.

Or the eight illegal Mexican nationals who were rescued (in two separate events) in the Jacumba Wilderness area in California, two on September 11 and six on September 12. The latter group was “lost, out of water, and in need of medical attention” when agents found them.

Or the 24-year-old Mexican national (and suspected drug smuggler) who was fished out of the Rio Grande on September 12 near Salineno, Texas. He was one of several whom agents spotted in a jon boat crossing the river and loading marijuana bales into a Ford Explorer on the U.S. side.

When Texas state troopers gave chase, the man jumped into the river, but struggled to stay afloat. Agents and troopers saved him and seized 685 pounds of weed (street value: $545,000) to boot.

How about the 11 illegal migrants who got locked in Union Pacific auto hauler railcars near Eagle Pass, Texas, on September 1? Railroad cops called agents seeking assistance, and the agents rescued the group — the cars were blazing hot, and one of the migrants was unresponsive.

While they were in the area, agents searched the train and found 27 other “undocumented migrants” aboard.

Why do I blame Biden? Because his policies have lured hundreds of thousands of migrants to make the trek to enter the United States illegally, with implicit promises of quick release into the United States.

And because those policies have led to so many Border Patrol apprehensions of aliens who simply want to turn themselves in to be released into the interior, tens of thousands of other aliens — more than a few with criminal intentions — are taking advantage of an overwhelmed Border Patrol to enter illegally and evade apprehension.

Many of those searches and rescues are of aliens of the former sort, but as the Salineno example shows, more than a few are of the latter sort, too.

Not all the dangers of illegal migration are on this side of the border, however, as recent reporting explains.

A September 6 article in the Wall Street Journal revealed that gangs of armed men are raping and robbing foreign nationals, including children, crossing through Panama’s Darien Gap on their way to enter the United States illegally.

According to the Journal, 70,000 migrants have passed through the gap this year (10 times as many as in FY 2020), including nationals of Haiti, Venezuela, and Cuba who had already been resettled in South America. The article also mentions migrants “from as far away as Somalia and Bangladesh”, all passing through the Darien Gap headed to the United States.

My colleague Todd Bensman has made similar observations about both the Gap and the transnational migrants making their way through it.

The international aid group Doctors Without Borders reports “it has documented 180 cases of rape” in one small village on the northern edge of the Gap since it started operations there in May, but it “believes the true number of victims is likely far higher since many migrants don’t report the attacks for fear of retribution or because they don’t want to slow their journey.”

Witnesses interviewed by the Journal in a nearby refugee camp stated that “they witnessed children being sexually abused when their parents weren’t able to pay extortion money to prevent the attacks. All but five said they had been robbed of their money, their documents and the little food they carried.”

The perpetrators of those attacks appear to know exactly where to go. One local leader quoted in the article explained that “attacks appear to be perpetrated by people familiar with the routes that migrants take, knowing where to hide and intercept them.”

Rapes and robberies are not the only hells that the Gap presents; there are also “treacherous hills, relentless rain and malarial mosquitoes” there.

So why exactly would migrants headed to the United States be traversing a landscape out of Hieronymus Bosch? A false and misguided sense of security, apparently:

Some migrants thought they would be safe after Panama’s foreign ministry announced a plan to control migration flows last month. The effort included registering people who came into the country via the Darién before buses transport them to Costa Rica’s border, the next leg in the northbound journey.

Panama is plainly taking its lead from the Biden administration. I can state from experience that the country has long apprehended and released northbound migrants, provided they left quickly. That system has now ostensibly been standardized. But if our president isn’t going to stop migrants from entering the U.S. illegally, why should the Panamanians hinder their efforts to get here?

I have held back on some of the more harrowing tales in that piece. But the Journal’s reporting is the outlier in the American media; you rarely hear how bad the journey to the United States can be. Even when bipartisan federal panels release such details in published reports (as one did in April 2019), they are quickly buried.

The question is why? Making such dangers public might deter more than a few foreign nationals from coming here to begin with, facially a positive outcome. Of course, that would reveal how misguided the policies promoted by open-border advocates (including the president) really are, which may be the reason that stories like the Journal’s and the rescues at the border are so underreported by compliant media.

One argument that you often hear is that the dangers of the journey to the United States are so bad that they prove the truth of the harrowing tales migrants present of persecution back home. That is a canard in the truest sense of the term. If you don’t know how bad the trek to the United States is, they don’t either.

The American public is often presented with pictures of cute toddlers on muddy roads standing next to parents being questioned by Border Patrol agents in the dead of night as the “faces of the migrant crisis”. The true faces of the migrant crisis are the foreign nationals who have gotten themselves in over their heads, lured in by the promises of oleaginous and rapacious smugglers.

And the Border Patrol agents are usually the good guys.